Tahir-ul-Qadri and politics

BY Professor Waheed Uz Zaman Tariq

Self-acclaimed Sheikh ul Islam, Tahir-ul-Qadri lives in Canada but visits Pakistan, as and when he likes. His second title is Professor. When we saw him last, in the university of the Punjab, he was a lecturer. Then, he left his job of formal teaching. We saw him occasionally, in a distinct, fancy and purposely designed cloak, appearing on Television and delivering lectures and discussing matters of Theology, Jurisprudence and Sufism. He was Maulana, Doctor, Allama and finally Shiekh ul Islam. The last title was officially conferred by the Ottoman rulers to the senior most religious authority and the tradition had ended in 1923, as a result of formal abrogation, by Turkish Parliament. With the titles, his caps, turbans, gowns and cloak changed.

At different occasions. He claimed to be a religious scholar, reformist, statesman, politician and author, at different occasion. Ultimately, eh left Lahore and migrated to Canada, where he took oath of allegiance of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, to become a Canadian national. That step was taken for having convenience in traveling, with a passport of Canada. This was his claim and we respect it, which means that he wanted to avoid inconvenience, which Pakistani passport holders have during our international tours.

Tahir-ul-Qadri is also actively involved in Pakistani politics. He had a first dharna (sit in), at Blue area in the last days of Pakistan Peoples Party’s government and left smilingly when all was settled. Then, he joined Mr Imran Khan and convinced him to resort to a similar dhana, in an attempt to get resignation from the prime minister, Nawaz Sharif. At the Lahore’s Allama Iqbal airport, he refused to leave the aircraft and demanded that either army personnel should receive him or the Governor of Punjab Chaudhari Ghulam Sarwar should come to take him out of the plane. After a brief stay at Lahore, he moved towards Islamabad and Mr Imran Khan did the same. They joined at D Chauk and created a chaos there. They were successful in getting the visits of the Chinese President and Sri Lanka’s head of the state, postponed. They attacked a police officer and Pakistan TV station. They stopped the vehicles of the bureaucrats and judges and enjoyed. The green patches of constitution avenue were denuded. Their followers camped in the lawns of the National Assembly and try to break the main gate of the Presidency. For weeks and weeks they stayed on. They created hygienic disaster at D chauk and wanted to have few dead bodies to trade with the government. He was exhausted and left Imran Khan alone.

Mr Qadri is an important person and needed special security. In Lahore, where his office is located at Model Town, he had made special security arrangements. The roads were blocked around it and it led to inconvenience for the easy flow of traffic. Before his arrival in Pakistan, for dharna, the government wanted inadvertently, to remove those obstacles. The job was done unprofessionally and when confronted with the dedicated followers of Sheikh in their job of removal of obstacles, the police resorted to firing and fourteen innocent people lost their lives. I wish that it would have been avoided. It was a great tragedy. The provincial government, made Rana Sanaullah as a scapegoat and he was removed from the ministry for few months and when the public memory was fading about the tragic incidence, eh was called back. Meanwhile, Sheikh roared in dharna and mourned for the martyrs. He looked towards heavens for a help from hidden places. He waited and became desperate. Some people feel that he made settlement of blood money, with the government, before leaving. We do not know much about that. Anyhow, the innocent people lost their lives and their families were left to suffer forever. Sheikh uses that tragedy, at his convenience, whenever he feels that there is a time to pressurize the government.

Tahir-ul-Qadri came back to Pakistan quite a few times but kept his tone low and left the country, without gathering a big mob on the streets. He does not seem to be as naïve as he had been in his couple of previous visits, the last one was six months ago. This time, he seems to be tough. He is talking of Panama Gate scandal and predicting about the fall of the government. We hope that he remains confined to his spiritual and religious activities. We are not qualified to discuss his spiritual experiences and observation, about which he makes occasional statements. Physically, he feels that he needed more rest. He is also conscious of the nomination of his successor. Anyhow, who else may be more suitable than his own son. We are nation, which like dynasties and families. Indeed, he has established a legacy. I wish him a comfortable stay in Pakistan and safe journey back home, to Canada. We have enough confusion in our social and political life and his occasional trips, make us more confused. He should leave us as such and confine to zikr and fikr (spiritual and intellectual pursuits).